We'll again start this week's prospect report with a look at NCAA first, because Brock Nelson had quite a weekend.
He picked up another big goal last night (and was robbed of a second by his teammate's contact with the goalie) as North Dakota won the WCHA Final Five and earned themselves a high seed in the NCAA tourney.
A fun, insignificant moment from last night's final: Brock Nelson backchecking like a machine to steal from the puck carrier in his own zone, carry it up ice, deliver a nice cross-ice pass that his winger bobbled but was able to dump to the corner, where Nelson picked it back up as he was pinned to the boards for a whistle by ... Scott Mayfield.
Fellow Isles prospect Mayfield was a gamer on the second pairing for Denver, which was down to five defensemen heading in and saw their blueline get further depleted as the game went on. Denver endured two overtime games heading into last night's final and was missing five regulars, so it wasn't their best effort nor their highest capacity.
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
The Sound Tigers play today in Worcester as they try to end a slump that's seen the pendulum of bounces swing back the other way and put them in a drought they haven't seen since late December before the 2012 resurrection began.
With 7-29-36, Matt Donovan is their active leading scorer behind Casey Cizikas, who is up with the Islanders.
Saturday, March 17: Portland 5, Bridgeport 3
The Sound Tigers lost last night in Portland, their third regulation loss in a row and fifth loss overall. Michael Fornabaio had your live blog/Tweet via Marconi-esque relay. He spoke with Brent Thompson, who said the work ethic is fine but the collective mistakes are sourcing their losses.
Friday, March 16: Connecticut 3, Bridgeport 2
Tomas Marcinko 'fessed to the turning point, entering the box to give the Whale a 5-on-3 which they converted. Kevin Poulin was strong in the loss, and Justin DiBenedetto and Trevor Frischmon (late) potted the goals.
Sunday, March 11: Nofolk 6, Bridgeport 4
Norfolk continued to roll, setting the Sound Tigers on this three-game regulation loss streak. Eric Boguniecki apparently took on the Doug Weight role, getting a misconduct from behind the bench at the end of the game. (Note: Bogie gets a Hall induction.) Saw lots of complaints about the officiating in that one from fans on Twitter and in the weekly chat.
Kael Mouillierat, Tyler McNeely and Frichmon (shorthanded) got the Bridgeport goals.
Natural Born Kirills
Kirill Petrov's Ak Bars is in a big hole, down 2-0 to Traktor in their playoff series. Here is a colorful summary of the series so far.
Because it was a good read and you might have missed it, we're going to steal from respected LHH commenter BenHasna with some observations from Petrov in the previous round's Game 7 (and earlier in the series) last week:
Petrov played on the 2nd line all series, and to my surprise it’s a defense-oriented line. His line started the periods for their team, played a lot against Ufa’s top line (Radulov’s line), took a lot of draws in their own zone and were sent out to close out the game in the final minute. And I thought it was their best line in the final game indeed. Probably Petrov isn’t driving the success of that line – center Tereshchenko seems to be a Nielsen-type forward, doing a lot of good things for them. And probably both line mates worked a little harder in their own one than Petrov. But still, very good to see him getting that kind of ice time. Petrov also got regular shifts on the PK, seemed to be PK forward #5-6 or so...
Kirill Kabanov is one fun player to watch when he's on his game. Problem is, he's rarely on his game for a full 60 minutes. If he can put things together in the playoffs and in the Mastercard Memorial Cup, he may become the second coming of Alexander Radulov. Radulov lead the way for Quebec in the 2006 Memorial Cup with 9 points...
Kabanov added a goal and three assists in three games this week, climbing to 21-34-55 in 50 games.
If you missed it, Mike Halmo was suspended 10 games by the OHL for his hit on Nail Yakupov. Depending on how Owen Sound does in the playoffs, that could very well be the end for Halmo's season and junior career. With the additional views in that video, I agree he deserved discipline -- and as we mentioned at the time of his signing, he has a history. Obviously Yakupov was culpable in putting himself in that position, but Halmo's jump at the end gets him in trouble. Even if that was a result of trying to pull up, a player is responsible for leaving his feet and/or launching upward.
Ryan Strome's stacked East champion Niagara team continues to pile on, and Strome picked up three more points in three more games this week. He's up to 30-38-68 in 45 games. The Ice Dogs have one more game Sunday and will be looking for a long playoff run in the OHL, starting off with Oshawa. Mitchell Theoret finished with 12-9-21 in 61 games, with 39 PIM.
Andrei Pedan added three more assists and finishes with 10-30-40 and a whopping 152 PIM (nine more this week) in 63 games. His Guelph Storm begin the playoffs on the road vs. Plymouth.
John Persson also added a goal and three assists this week. His and Red Deer's season comes to a close, and he finishes as their leading scorer with 23-35-58 in 70 games.
Brenden Kichton scored a goal and an assist last night to close out the regular season with 17-57-74 in 71 games from the blueline. His Spokane team opens the playoffs on the road in Vancouver.